Woods returns to course since knee injury

Updated: 2011-05-11 09:43
Large Medium Small

Woods returns to course since knee injury
Tiger Woods celebrates sinking an eagle putt during final round play in the 2011 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, in this April 10, 2011 file photo. Woods will return to action from a minor knee injury to compete in next week's Players Championships in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the PGA Tour said on Friday. [Photo/Agencies]

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida - Tiger Woods returns to competitive golf at this week's Players Championship after hardly striking a ball since suffering a knee injury at last month's Masters.

Related readings:
Woods returns to course since knee injuryWoods sidelined with knee injury suffered at Masters 
Woods returns to course since knee injuryTiger Woods, Liu Xiang meet in Beijing 
Woods returns to course since knee injuryTiger Woods never stops having fun in golf

The American former world number one, without a tournament win in 18 months, is even listed by bookmakers as the favourite to win the tournament considered the "fifth major" by players.

Woods played nine holes at the TPC Sawgrass on Tuesday, which marked the first time he has been out on a course since he finished tied for fourth at the year's first major.

He suffered strains to his left knee and left Achilles' tendon while hitting an awkward shot from pine straw to the left of the 17th fairway at Augusta National during the third round of the Masters.

"It didn't feel good on Sunday. That was tough. I played through it but it was one of those things - I was in the midst of playing and competing and had to power through it, so I did," Woods told reporters on Tuesday. "I was able to shut it down for a little bit and able to take care of it."

Woods put himself in position to claim a fifth green jacket with that final round performance but had to miss his scheduled appearance at last week's Quail Hollow tournament due to injury problems he says surfaced at the Masters.

Woods, who has been taking anti-inflammatory medicine and receiving soft-tissue massage, said he did not start hitting balls until Monday.

The injury has clearly been a frustration for a 14-times major winner who had finally started to show glimpses of his winning form at Augusta.

"That's the way it goes. I have a slight injury and you've just got to take some time off, listen to the (doctors) and do the proper rehab," he said.

Woods has not won since his victory at the Australian Masters in 2009, a drought that is unprecedented in his career, although he said his struggles around 1998, when he won just once in 18 months, have helped him handle the winless streak.

"If I hadn't gone through it before, I probably wouldn't have handled it like this," said Woods.

"That period was brutal because I had never gone through a stretch like that. If I had never gone through that, this period would have been just as brutal."